Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator de-risks the employment process for SMEs

Alliance Partner


Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator has scaled its existing services to the SME sector. Over the past 18 months the organisation has placed more than 1,100 young people into SME jobs.

Harambee has been working with SMEs that include start-ups, franchises and in supply chains, placing young people in roles such as office admin and reception management, face to face sales, transport, retail and hospitality assistance and basic operations.

Alex Hadfield, Harambee’s SME project manager, said that sourcing and vetting new staff was a particular challenge for SMEs but that Harambee’s SME Solution, offered just that: a way for small business owners to decrease their risk, while increasing employee success.

“For smaller businesses hiring new staff is risky and resource-intensive compared to corporates. They need workers that are more versatile and are more self-directed. Yet they don’t have the resources to find and develop such employees. At Harambee we are part of the solution space – we help to decrease the risk of an initial hiring mistake by identifying those attributes in candidates that increase the chances of success. In the case of SMEs, much of that attribute is the ability to self-direct.”

Since 2011, Harambee has connected almost 30,000 young people previously locked out of the economy with job opportunities in close to 300 of South Africa’s top companies. In so doing they have performed over one million assessments for over 200 000 young work seekers. This large database of information enables a scientific approach to the problem of matching job demand with the supply of work seekers. Harambee now brings those insights to the SME space. SMEs make up more than 50% of formal sector jobs according to SA’s labour surveys, and this sector is also the most likely to provide real employment growth. Hence it is also an integral part of the National Development Plan, and important focus for any organisation concerned with unemployment.

“Similar to corporates, SMEs are looking for people with curiosity, positive attitude and basic work readiness. In addition SMEs need employees who can work independently from day one, can multitask, and don’t need a team structure or manager all the time. We’ve adapted our work readiness interventions (we call them bridges), to simulate this unstructured, self-driven SME environment.”

Harambee assists SMEs in registering, contracting and logging their talent requirements in an easy and cost effective manner. The SME offering also includes an SME Knowledge Centre including an HR toolkit, policies and procedures templates, highly subsidised fees, and assistance to both candidate and employer through the hiring process.

Hadfield said this initiative requires a multi-tiered approach. “As we assist in tackling youth unemployment, we’re also participating meaningfully in economic growth and real job creation. But sustained solutions require multiple stakeholders to work together – business, government, society and sponsors.”

SME clients who have already benefited from the Harambee service include BGR and Paul’s Homemade Ice Cream.

  • “When you are operating a small business, risk management is critical. Recruiting the right employees to represent our brand was a big source of anxiety for us. We successfully hired 8 Harambee candidates and we could not be happier with our team. The Harambee process is thorough and support is invaluable for a small business like ours. From recruiting, to interviews, to employment contracts, to best practice HR advice, Harambee has been a wonderful resource to lean on as we get up and running!” Jed Goldstein, BGR
  • “Harambee has been a fantastic find for us. A large portion of our staff compliment is made up of Harambee candidates, and we are perfectly pleased with all of them. When the time comes to bring on more employees, we will definitely be turning to Harambee - they have worked hard on understanding our needs and requirements.” Danya Amoils, Paul’s Homemade Ice Cream

Harambee can be reached on: www.harambee.co.za ,  smeinfo@harambee.co.za, or
 011 593 0505.


Harambee is a youth employment accelerator. They connect employers looking for entry-level talent to young, high-potential work-seekers who are currently locked out of the formal economy. Started in 2011, they recruit candidates where existing corporate recruitment networks do not reach, assess their competencies and match them to jobs where they are most likely to succeed. They then deliver high quality work readiness programmes that directly address the risks identified by employers in taking on first-time workers. Harambee has successfully placed almost 30,000 young people with close to 300 South African businesses across 10 economic sectors. Learn more at www.harambee.co.za.